Five Guns for the Homestead – Part 2 – Handguns
Hand guns and military rifles are a flashpoint for the anti-gun folks. They feel that there is no place for such things in a civilized society. I agree 100% and if I ever live in a civilized society I will be the first to give up my defensive firearms. I’m sorry, but there is violence in the world. People will try to hurt other people for no reason. People will try and take what you have. And this is when society is going along pretty well. Imagine what it would be like if the social order broke down completely. Does New Orleans during hurricane Katrina ring any bells with you? Most anti-gun folks live in cities. If they have a problem the police are usually no more than a few minutes away. Where I live there are four deputies to patrol 1600 square miles. By the time the law arrives, it’s all over. One night some guys were trying to break into my barn. I snuck up through the woods with a shotgun, crouched down in the brush, and fired a shot up in the air. They jumped in their truck and took off. I went back down to the house and called the sheriff to report what I had done. Their response was, “Do you want us to send somebody out.” “No,” I replied, “I just wanted to report what happened in case somebody calls in and says I was trying to kill them.” That’s how it works in the country. When people are spread out so thin, they have to learn to take care of themselves. So, I advocate the ownership of defensive weapons by sensible individuals that want to protect their families, their lives, and their property.
The handgun is not my first choice for home defense. I think a shotgun is far superior. A shotgun looks more intimidating, and a shotgun does not require as much skill or accuracy to use as a handgun. But, it’s kind of hard to carry a shotgun around with you all the time. A handgun, on the other hand, can easily be carried on the person. In Texas, where I live, any law abiding citizen can get a permit to carry a handgun; and many do. I don’t carry a handgun, but I do keep one in my truck. In Texas any citizen who is not a convicted felon, is not in the act of committing a felony, and who is not a member of a criminal organization, can carry a concealed handgun in their vehicle without any kind of permit. I would prefer to have a shotgun, but a shotgun is pretty hard to maneuver in a confined space like a vehicle.
So the question is, what kind of handgun? Do you want a revolver or an auto-loader? What size, what barrel length, what caliber. There are a lot of decisions to make. It used to be that law enforcement used nothing but revolvers because auto-loaders where considered to be too unreliable. The modern auto-loaders are pretty reliable, and they hold a lot more rounds of ammo. Nearly all departments issue auto-loaders now. As to size, select a handgun that fits your hand. When I’m looking at a handgun, the first thing I do (after making sure that it is unloaded) is to wrap my hand around it, hold it up into firing position, and place my index finger on the trigger. If it doesn’t feel right that’s as far as I go. If it’s not comfortable in my hand it doesn’t matter what other virtues it may have. Barrel length? Get the longest barrel that you can conveniently carry. The longer the barrel, the longer the sighting plane, and the more accurate the gun. When it comes to caliber, anything smaller than a .380 is too small. In Texas the law requires that a concealed handgun must be no smaller than .380 caliber.
I’m not going to recommend a specific handgun. That’s kind of like trying to tell people what brand of beer they should drink. The choice of a handgun is a very personal choice. I will recommend that you follow the guidelines mentioned above, and that if you select a revolver it be no smaller that .357 magnum (which will also shoot .38 specials).
If you choose an auto-loader I would recommend a 9mm because of the power and the wide availability of relatively inexpensive ammunition.
I carry an auto-loader; the Tarus PT-92. It is a clone of the Beretta 92 (in fact it is made on Beretta tooling). The PT-92 is medium in size, is double action, and holds 15 rounds of 9mm plus one in the chamber. Mine is accurate and I have had no jamming or other problems with it. Whatever handgun you choose, learn how to use it. That means lots of ammo and lots of range time. You don’t want to be trying to figure out where the safety is if you’re in a life and death situation